Business has a crucial role to play in helping nature to stabilize and recover. So we welcome the recent launch of science-based targets for nature that enable companies to take ambitious and measurable action. The targets, which have been developed by the Science Based Targets Network (SBTN), will focus on freshwater and land resources, with targets on biodiversity and the oceans to follow at a later point. Over 200 organizations provided input to the initial tools and guidance, leading to the launch of a full version for freshwater and a beta version for land resources that will be evaluated in coming months. WWF, a member of the SBTN, co-led the development of the methodologies, and an initial group of 17 global companies are now preparing to submit their targets for validation, building on the progress already made by over 2,600 companies who have adopted science-based targets to help tackle the climate crisis.
Photo: © Ola Jennersten / WWF-Sweden
In the last issue of Pulse, we led with news that governments had agreed on the text of a new global UN treaty that paves the way for greater protection of the two-thirds of the ocean, called the high seas, that lie outside national boundaries. Since then, the UN’s 193 member states have adopted this legally-binding agreement, which provides a framework for the protection and responsible use of the high seas, but it now needs to be ratified by 60 national governments before entering into force. “The ocean cannot wait. Nations must now swiftly ratify this treaty and start identifying areas of the high seas for protection immediately,” said Jessica Battle, Senior Global Ocean Governance and Policy Expert. Until now, only about 1% of the high seas has been protected, leaving it at risk from activities such as industrial-scale fishing and shipping that can cause massive environmental harm unless properly controlled.
Photo: © Alexis Rosenfeld
WWF-Australia has been campaigning for the past seven years against the use of commercial gill nets in the Great Barrier Reef, concerned about the way they indiscriminately kill a variety of species that are not targeted by fishers, including dugongs, dolphins, turtles, sawfish and sharks. So we welcome a decision by the Australian and Queensland governments to phase out their use by mid-2027 in the natural World Heritage site. This will be backed by a government package of over AUS$160 million, which will support a number of measures including the buyout of gill net licences, the creation of net-free zones and the use of independent data valuation on commercial fishing vessels. Since 2016, thanks to generous supporters from across the globe, WWF-Australia has purchased, and shelved, four commercial gill net licences for Great Barrier Reef waters. Our work will continue now with the Australian and Queensland governments to deliver urgently needed protection for more areas critical to the survival of the reef’s threatened marine wildlife.
Photo: © Istockphoto.com / WWF
A new biosphere reserve in Tanzania has been designated by UNESCO after a lengthy consultative and participatory process with stakeholders that started in 2019 and involved a number of partners including WWF-Tanzania’s Blue Action Fund Project. This global recognition of the Rufiji-Mafia-Kibiti-Kilwa Biosphere Reserve (RUMAKI) will help ensure it is managed sustainably for the benefit of both people and nature. The reserve, which is recognized as being the most biologically productive and diverse marine area in Tanzania and East Africa, features an outstanding variety of tropical marine habitats. These include coral reefs, seagrass beds, mangroves and intertidal flats that support populations of turtles, migrating birds, dolphins and whale sharks. The 200,000+ people who live there also benefit from this natural treasure. Their main livelihoods include small-scale and semi-industrial fisheries, seaweed farming and bee-keeping. Coastal tourism is also an important income source with two cultural World Heritage sites (Mafia Island and the ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Songo Mnara Islands) and the Kibiti/Rufiji Delta Mangrove reserve (recognized as a Ramsar wetland site of international importance) among the top destinations for visitors.
Photo: © Brent Stirton / Getty Images / WWF-UK
The number of wild tigers in India has more than doubled since 2010 to a minimum of 3,167 individuals – the result of significant political and civil society support for conserving the country’s national animal. The increase was announced after an in-depth national survey, which WWF-India contributed to, involving 641,449 sq km of foot surveys, 32,588 camera counts and 641,102 person days. Since 13 tiger-range governments committed to doubling wild tiger numbers in 2010, there have been increases in some sites with Nepal, for example, reporting a near-tripling of its population last year. However, we remain concerned about the lack of progress in Southeast Asia where there have been declines and national extinctions. Tigers continue to face many threats such as poaching and habitat destruction. Because they need large areas with diverse habitats free from human disturbance and rich in prey, the solutions are complex and require the involvement of many partners. Find out more about our work for tigers at https://tigers.panda.org.
Photo: © Staffan Widstrand / WWF
Indigenous Peoples are all too frequently marginalized in decision making about their lives. So we are involved in a project to improve the active and meaningful participation of Indigenous Peoples in development planning and decisions that affect the Amazon. Our teams in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru have worked with Indigenous organizations and other NGOs to develop a guide that helps people to take an intersectional approach to projects where Indigenous Peoples are involved. This involves acknowledging that everyone has their own unique experiences of discrimination and oppression, and helps people to consider all the many factors that contribute to this. Taking this approach then helps enable the positive action needed to overcome the barriers Indigenous Peoples face, with a particular emphasis on the most marginalized groups such as women and young people.
Pictured is Esthela Nonteno, from the Amazonian Kichwa Indigenous Peoples, who is a strong voice for the Indigenous economy within her community. She has her own business, called Andi Wayusa, which sells an energy drink made from the guayusa leaf.
Photo: © Joel Heim/WWF-Ecuador
A new WWF report has revealed an incredible 380 new species of plants and animals were discovered in the Greater Mekong region in 2021 and 2022. A grand total of 24 amphibians, 19 fishes, one mammal, 290 plants and 46 reptiles were described by scientists in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam. It’s fantastic news but, with many of the species already under threat of extinction from human activities, WWF is calling on governments in the region to increase protection for these amazing creatures and their habitats. The new species, like so many others already known to humanity, are under intense pressure from deforestation, habitat degradation, road development, loss of streams and rivers, pollution, diseases spread by human activities, competition from invasive species, and the devastating impacts of illegal wildlife trade. WWF works with a variety of partners, including business, communities, governments and NGOs, to develop strategies that protect Greater Mekong wildlife and their habitats. This includes some of the region’s best-known wildlife, such as Asian elephants, Irrawaddy dolphins and tigers, as well as the forests, rivers and oceans we all depend on.
Photo: © Thai National Parks / Creative Commons
A WWF blog has highlighted efforts to protect the white-naped crane by two members of a WWF-backed eco-club in Mongolia. The species has declined to just a few thousand individuals in the wild due to threats ranging from agricultural development to climate change – and is now considered vulnerable according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. So it’s been great to hear how 12-year-old twin brothers Enkh-Erdene and Gansuld successfully encouraged their local community around Ekhen Burd lake to protect crane eggs from being eaten by local dogs and trampled by livestock during nesting season. Since 2012, WWF-Mongolia has worked with 53 eco-clubs where children, aged 10 to 15, learn about wildlife, natural resource management, science and conservation alongside teachers, rangers and field experts. Together, eco-club students collaborate to develop and implement youth-led conservation projects and come together every year to share their journey with each other. As of 2023, the eco-club network has more than 1,600 students across the country.
Photo: © M. Uuganbayar / WWF-Mongolia